Molly Joyce
Nationality: American
Occupation: Composer/Performer
Current Release: Breaking and Entering on New Amsterdam Records
Recommendations: Fin by John Talabot / Museum Benches by Shannon Finnegan
Website/Contact: Molly can be found online via her website www.mollyjoyce.com

When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I starting composing more seriously in high school, during which I discovered festivals and competitions for music composition and began to realize that pursuing it as a professional endeavor might be possible. My early influences were therefore primarily living composers and especially female composers, such as Jennifer Higdon, Missy Mazzoli, and Julia Wolfe. Once I moved to New York for undergraduate studies I became very influenced by the variety of musical styles and cross-genre work, such as that fostered by Bang on a Can and New Amsterdam Records.

I think what drew me to music/sound and what still does is its seemingly abstract nature yet surreal and personal affect. I was and still am addicted to composing with MIDI and the satisfaction and hearing something back immediately after you composed it, despite the lower sound quality. I therefore believe a large part of that is a desire to express something that can only be expressed in a musical output, and then expand upon that and into various other mediums and disciplines.

For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?

I certainly emulated others throughout my training, particularly after my composition teachers as well as music I fell in love with specifically after moving to New York. I think some of this was emphasized with being in an academic setting and trying to learn from others as much as possible. My compositional voice and style really freed up after finishing graduate studies and I got thinking about what I really wanted to make as an artist, including venturing more into performance and singing.

In many ways I always try to strike a balance between copying, learning and my own creativity and voice especially as my influences are always changing, however I think that’s where perhaps your true voice comes out, within the in-between of acknowledging and utilizing your influences and your own wildest artistic dreams.

What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?

My main challenges have been not trusting myself and process. For my first album, it consists entirely of music composed, performed, and recorded by myself, and throughout the process I was always questioning my decisions. However, over time it became more and more clear that I sought out this process for a reason and it made the most sense for the album.

What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?

My first studio was my bedroom, and that has transported itself to various living locations ever since. My set-up has evolved over the years to include more performance equipment, including my vintage toy organ, interface, mic, and ideally a projector to try out different video displays and set-ups.

How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?

I primarily use technology with electronic processing of acoustic sound sources, such as my voice and vintage toy organ, as well as creating videos to accompany my musical material. Humans excel at creativity without walls/borders if that makes sense, not usually thinking within the confines of what has been coded in. Machines excel at expanding upon that creativity and going beyond limits of human capability. I’m particularly interested in breaking down socially-constructed notions of what human ability is and can be.

Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?

Certainly, production tools such as Sibelius notation software and Logic Pro digital audio workstation are crucial to my process, often switching with each other as either first or last in the work creation. I particularly value the co-authorship and exchange between myself and the technology. I know the work would look and sound completely different without it, and if anything, I want to use it to my advantage.

Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?

I love collaborating in any and all ways possible. It’s important to have outlets that are solely your output, such as composing/performing your own piece, more mutual collaborations where you meet in the middle, and ones where you’re serving another artist and helping their vision come to life; all approaches greatly inform my ongoing practice, and also help diminish my artistic ego.

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